The text message flashes across my screen and I smile – “Let’s get together with our little kids and pretend we are young moms again,” my friend suggests . . . I feel the nostalgia wash over me when I think of my oldest children that I affectionately call my first litter. My eyes tear at the thought of my now tallest-grown babies running short, wild, and free. Then I think of my younger self, the one who tried so hard to get everything right but often felt like it was falling apart. I can see myself now, trying to find the hairbrush, chasing a toddler, and wrangling the baby into a fresh diaper after being up all night. I am juggling containers of organic snacks and bite-sized fruit . . . sometimes bone-tired, just trying to keep up. And most of all, I am grappling hard with a palpable confusion about how it is all adding up.
Through the lens of passing time, I see more clearly; I did not feel like there was enough of me to go around. I wrestled with the stress of mundane needs driving me half mad. I stared at countless rounds of counters sprawling with crumbs and dirty dishes. I did not fully understand the opportunity for holy mission or the feminine genius of my motherhood beholden right in front of me. Sure, I knew I was essential, but the smallness of my tasks, the lack of personal time, and my shortcomings often left me seeing my purpose only in the shadows. The younger me fought a tsunami of worry over the health and safety of my little brood. It felt as if their well-being was teetering upon my capability. The constant change of growth and development made it impossible to lay hold of one sure method; all was a constant shift with seemingly uncertain narrative. There was the need to tackle new ground, the regret of things gone wrong, and the throb of heart trying to hold fleeting moments.
Over the course of the last decade, with my foray into the Church, the eyes of my heart and understanding have begun to see the depths of purpose; God has a sovereign plan in the heart-breaking, golden, exhausting work. I am his essential worker. It is ordinary work, and yet extraordinary grace is here. I have been called to live and breathe a suffering love that leads to my greatest joy—a life poured out and given like Christ.
God ordained Jesus to take the ordinary, essential elements of everyday living such as water, oil, bread, and self-gift, and endow them with extraordinary grace. So, too, is my life as a mother patterned in this way; I have been called to imbue my essential actions with Christ’s self-giving love and open my heart to the grace of his presence that transforms. This transformative reality allows me to nurture holiness and wholeness in my children in a world that is falling apart. As a mother, I am called to change the world right at my feet, creating a sanctuary of love.
Now, in this season, when society aches for the beauty of our stories to unfold, and all are left to wonder, staring hard at what the next stage will look like, I am reminded like never before of the transformative power of the presence of sacramental living found here in this vocation. No matter how the world spins, the sacred space of our homes is a light that cannot be put out, because Christ is here, calling us to this essential work.